Where to Surrender an Aggressive Dog?


Where to Surrender an Aggressive Dog?

Where to Surrender an Aggressive Dog?

Rehoming an aggressive dog should be considered as a final option, pursued only after exhausting all avenues to address the aggression and ensuring the safety of both the dog and those around them. Whether the aggression is directed towards the owner, strangers, or other pets within the household, it’s crucial to understand that there is still hope for improvement.

Various factors come into play when determining if working on the dog’s behavior before surrendering is feasible or recommended. The prognosis for the dog’s behavior may differ based on these factors, emphasizing the need for careful consideration and evaluation before making a decision.

What is an Aggressive Dog? 

An aggressive dog displays uncontrollable aggression towards people or animals, often triggered by psychological factors. Such behavior poses a significant threat in the household and cannot be effectively managed.

Transitioning any dog to a new environment through surrender is inherently traumatic, causing stress even for well-adjusted dogs. For an aggressive dog, this adjustment is even more challenging.

Hoping To Stop The Growling Before It Escalates Further

One of the biggest reasons we chose to return Kopa to the shelter is because we didn’t want him to bite someone. If he bit someone, there is potential that he would be stripped from us and euthanized.

In this instance, we’d be facing a great amount of guilt for not taking action sooner to help Kopa get better. I would personally feel guilty for his death, and that is something I couldn’t live with.

Additionally, someone could be seriously injured, or we could be sued for liability. These risks added up to a lot more than we were prepared to manage in our home.

Just Because You Know It’s Right Doesn’t Make It Easier

I sincerely hope you never find yourself in a position where you must make this heartbreaking decision. My wish for you is to cultivate the same profound bond we share with Sally with every canine companion you welcome into your home. From my own experience, bidding farewell to a perfectly healthy dog is just as agonizing as losing them to death.

The night we arrived at this painful resolution, tears flowed for hours. I felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment and failure. It seemed as though I had let Kopa down, as if my efforts to aid him fell short. We exhausted every conceivable avenue to assist him, yet it became evident that we were not the right fit for his needs as a family.

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What Do Trainers Advise For Aggressive Dogs?

We consulted with our dog trainer regarding Kopa’s behavior, and she emphasized the importance of establishing dominance and asserting ourselves as the leaders in his eyes. She suggested adopting a leadership role similar to Sally’s and provided us with guidance on addressing Kopa’s behavior. Additionally, she lent us a muzzle to ensure our safety and comfort during the training process.

Some Promising Outcomes

Research conducted by Dr. Radosta during her tenure at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that 86 percent of owners observed an enhancement in their pet’s behavior six months following their initial appointment for treating owner-directed aggression.

Dr. Karen Overall highlights a notable discovery from an analysis spanning over a decade, focusing on cases of canine aggression: regardless of the severity of the dog’s behavior, dedicated efforts from the owners to alleviate the dog’s distress resulted in improvement.

No-Kill Shelters

Certain shelters may decline to accept aggressive dogs, while others might consider euthanasia if the dog poses a threat to the lives of other animals. Moreover, some shelters may lack the necessary resources to rehabilitate aggressive dogs. In such instances, it’s advisable to seek out a no-kill shelter.

However, it’s important to note that even no-kill shelters may pose challenges, particularly if the dog has a history of biting, as this can complicate their acceptance into the shelter.

Ask Pet Specialists

If shelters decline to accept your aggressive dog, inquire about volunteers or pet professionals who possess the expertise, time, and resources to have the dog evaluated by a behaviorist. Depending on the triggers for the dog’s aggression, there may be the possibility of placing them in a home environment devoid of those triggers.

For instance, if the dog exhibits aggression towards other dogs, a household without other canines may resolve the issue. It’s essential to have a thorough discussion about these options with your veterinarian to ascertain the safest environment for your dog and all other animals and individuals with whom they come into contact.

Why We Opted to Bid Farewell

As Kopa’s instances of growling became more frequent, we recognized the necessity of returning him to the shelter from whence he came. Several compelling reasons guided our decision-making process:

Safety and Comfort in Our Home Environment:

Both Pat and I firmly believe in fostering an environment where we aren’t fearful of our dogs, and where they, in turn, feel cherished and at ease within their family unit. The emergence of fear towards Kopa could potentially exacerbate his growling or biting tendencies, inadvertently granting him undeserved dominance within the pack hierarchy, leading to further complications.

Our home should be a sanctuary where all occupants feel secure and content, a sentiment that became compromised amidst Kopa’s escalating behavior. Constantly on edge, anticipating the next growl, we recognized the strain this placed on all involved. This was not the fulfilling life we envisioned for Kopa or ourselves; he deserved better.

Concerns Regarding Young Children and Aggressive Behavior:

Anticipating the arrival of a new family member in August 2018, we found ourselves confronting the reality of having young nieces and nephews present. While we had always felt at ease with Sally’s interactions with children, Kopa’s presence necessitated heightened vigilance in such situations.

What To Do With An Aggressive Dog That Bites?

Here are several alternatives for handling an aggressive dog that bites:

  • Collaborate with a trainer or behaviorist to address and control the issue.
  • Consider rehoming the dog utilizing the strategies mentioned earlier.
  • If the aggression poses a serious threat to humans and animals, euthanasia may unfortunately be necessary.


If you are considering surrendering an aggressive dog, it’s crucial to explore alternative options beforehand:

Behavioral Issues: Before making a decision, seek advice from your veterinarian or consult a professional trainer to address common behavioral problems.

RWA/Neighbour Issues: If concerns about your neighbors or housing complex restrictions are prompting you to consider surrendering your dog:

Remember, housing complexes cannot legally demand that you give up your pet or impose unreasonable restrictions, such as prohibiting your pet from using elevators. Similarly, your neighbors cannot object unreasonably to your pet’s natural behavior, such as barking.

Self-Rehoming: Consider rehoming the dog yourself to a suitable new home. This approach ensures a smoother transition for your dog and allows you to ensure they are placed in a caring environment. Explore options within your network of friends, family, and online adoption agencies in your city before considering VOSD Rescue as a last resort.

How To Rehome An Aggressive Dog

As someone who works from home, I have the privilege of spending every moment with my beloved pups. They’re not just pets; they’re my coworkers, providing endless entertainment and companionship throughout the day. Their snuggles and playful antics never fail to bring warmth to my heart, especially when it’s time to clock out. They’ve even learned to recognize the sound of me shutting down my wireless keyboard and mouse, eagerly anticipating our quality time together for eating and playing.

Despite pouring love, attention, and care into Kopa for three months, his aggression persisted. It was a heartbreaking realization that led us to the difficult decision of finding him a new home. The bond Kopa formed with us was profound and swift, making the prospect of parting ways incredibly painful.

My partner, Pat, had been a devoted dog lover long before I joined the ranks. Despite much of Kopa’s aggression being directed at him, Pat shared in the emotional turmoil of this decision. We recognized Kopa’s many endearing qualities, yet the lingering fear from his occasional outbursts prevented us from fully relaxing in his presence.

When we adopted Kopa, we agreed to return him to the shelter if rehoming became necessary. Surrendering him to the shelter seemed like the most responsible choice for all involved.

While some may argue that three months isn’t sufficient time to build a relationship, we felt we had exhausted every avenue to help Kopa overcome his challenges. We invested in training, ensured his physical needs were met, and showered him with affection. Despite our efforts, his behavior continued to deteriorate, leaving us heartbroken and feeling helpless in the end.

What Options Are There Before Surrendering an Aggressive Dog?

Prior to opting to surrender an aggressive dog, exploring various options is advisable, as they may aid in managing or even addressing the underlying cause of the aggression. However, it’s important to acknowledge that certain options may not be viable in cases of severe, persistent aggression that poses substantial risks to individuals or other animals.

What Makes an Aggressive Dog Particularly Dangerous?

Numerous factors can affect the outlook for a dog exhibiting severe behavioral issues like aggression. These adverse prognostic factors may indicate a less promising outcome or reduced likelihood of success when endeavoring to alter a dog’s behavior. Let’s delve into them:

The size of the dog plays a significant role, as larger dogs possess more power and thus have a greater potential to cause harm.

Clear warning signs are crucial; a dog that exhibits aggression without prior cues poses a higher risk than one that displays warning signs before acting aggressively.

Predictability is essential; aggression without identifiable triggers or patterns can be particularly dangerous due to its unexpected nature. The presence of children amplifies risks, especially if an aggressive dog resides in a household with young children.

Bite inhibition is critical; a dog with poor bite inhibition, delivering level 4 bites, is considered more hazardous than one with better control, delivering level 1 bites. Owner participation is key; while the severity of the dog’s behavioral issues is often the focus, the owner’s attitude toward the dog is the most predictive factor for the dog’s retention in a home and overall outcome. Disinterest, lack of time, or financial constraints on the part of the owner can lead to unfavorable outcomes.

Where To Surrender An Aggressive Dog

When determining the best course of action for dealing with an aggressive dog, several options are worth considering.

Contact The Shelter Or Breeder You Adopted From

Our first suggestion is to reach out to the shelter or breeder from whom you adopted your dog. Many adoption agreements include provisions requiring you to notify them first if rehoming becomes necessary (similar to our experience with Kopa).

When contacting the shelter or breeder, be open and honest about your dog’s aggression. While some dogs may respond well to training from experts in aggression management, others may present significant safety concerns, necessitating specific precautions to be taken into account.

How can I manage my dog’s aggressive behaviour?

Identifying your dog’s triggers and establishing leadership can be effective in handling its aggression. For free expert guidance and resources on managing aggressive behavior, consider contacting Dogs Trust.

Should I rehome an aggressive dog?

In the event of a dog displaying aggressive behavior, it’s crucial to collaborate with a trainer or behaviorist to tackle the issue. Rehoming becomes the optimal choice if the problem proves unmanageable; however, euthanasia remains a consideration if the aggression presents a significant risk.

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